Monday, December 21, 2009

funeral faire

A “high” monk of Chiang Mai died some days ago and the 4 days of funeral ceremonies were held. I went twice, to a Dhammatalk Ajaan Tong gave and last night to the last ceremony and cremation. Ajaan Tong talked about the Satipathana Sutta. We went as whole group to greet him and another “high” monk which I never met before. It was funny, Ajaan Tong who usually walks guided by one or two people suddenly jumped up and arranged the group around the other monk. Then we bowed, he said some friendly words and back we krept. On my way back I passed Ajaan Tong and prostrated to him and in the end his eyes were catching mine and he looked at me long, again and then nodded, as if to confirm something to consent. Ajaan Tong is special. His gace and consent is uplifting. In the beginning I cried when I met him, for an hour after the first meeting. Some may see the weak old body and not notice the radiance. When he looks into the eyes of somebody it can’t let one unmoved.
Yesterday we went at 9 in the morning and I expected a short excursion, it turned out to be a long day, we went back at about 9 o’clock at night. Here the highlights of the day: I was standing and watching the imposing coffin pagoda, a 15m high wooden structure in form of a bird with elephant head, covered beautifully with colorful paper, I was wearing my mae chii robes and a monkssize blanket of the same material to keep me warm around the shoulders, an official which I remembered to be employed in the Buddhist office approached, “oh oh”, I thought “to jail for wearing something that looks eventually like a monksrobe” … but I was invited to sit with the honored group of Buddhistoffice employees, all men and women in white uniforms with some brass.
Then the Bhikkhunis from Nirodharam came and were guided to the monks tribune by one of the female Buddhist office highranks. The monks had to move aside a bit to give room to the Bhikkhunis.
Then some monks with rank and name came, the crowd prostrated etc., the somdet was guided by all Buddhist office officials to his place. One of them went to the speakers corner and started his speech by greeting the fourfold community of Bhikkhu, Bhikkhuni, laymen and laywomen. What a happy day! A Buddhist office official greets Bhikkhunis, just imagine that.
After lunch it was quite boring until 8 at night, the time for the cremation. Some people tried to talk to me, which always was short because of my very limited Thai. Most of them saw that I’m mae chii, but some thought I’m Bhikkhuni. “No, not yet, next year I will be.” I said. Since I met Ajaan Tong 2 days before I’m convinced it will be so. May it hold true.
At 8 pm the bird-elephant in which somewhere the dead monk must have been hidden was set on fire with spectacular fireworks. Some people are funny, they wait for hours to see a cremation, but rush away before it really starts just to be the first at their car. Many thousands people came to see the cremation.

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